Thursday, August 19, 2010

Go Time?

There seems to be an assumption, that a fall election is very unlikely. This prediction is largely based on Conservative fortunes, down in the polls, no real apparent upside or realistic prospect of the coveted majority. Within this mindset, an almost after the fact analysis of the Liberal situation. Surely, the Liberals wouldn't consider an election, given what happened prior, given where they are in the poll, even entertaining the possibility sure madness. I would submit, contrary to conventional wisdom, the Liberals should seriously consider a fall election.

It always seems to come down to the polls. I believe there is much more to the equation, but on this score, the numbers are actually encouraging. If you isolate yourself to the Liberal support, then the idea of an election is somewhat laughable, but that is to narrow a view. The fact that this government sits well below their tally in the last two elections, closer to their 2004 LOSS to Martin, is a very powerful indicator that they are ripe for defeat. Some voters are clearly bypassing the Liberals, but that doesn't detract from the fact that there is no love in the land for Harper and company. The polls tell me, on a personal level Harper has never been less popular, as a party, the Conservatives show more vulnerability, than at any point since they came to office. Rather than a "where we are" exclusive consideration, one should be well aware of "where they are" and then decide if we can capitalize. At the very least, I don't see the polls as the great dissuader that some to, in fact I see opportunity.

Beyond the polls, I sense a real change on the narrative front. There are two storylines here, both of which work in the Liberals favour. Harper is getting hammered, the most negative narratives are cementing in a very coherent, easily understood way. At the same time, Ignatieff is gaining a certain measure of respect from the media class, as he completes an almost flawless tour, proving he is up to the challenge of a campaign. While the numbers have yet to show a seismic change, there is no question Ignatieff is better off today, than he was at the beginning of the summer. My political instincts see a certain momentum, that might serve us well when Parliament returns. Eliminate the self inflicted wound, internal divisions routine, and you might just keep the focus on the government and start to look the credible alternative.

Some Liberals are waiting for that day when the Liberals are well ahead in the polls and victory looks almost assured. I would argue, that day may never come UNTIL we have a campaign, unless of course people are prepared to wait for a couple more years, even that offering zero guarantees of anything. A campaign offers the Liberals the best high profile opportunity to bring the soft support back into the fold. Should we wait until the budget, we might be surprised when the government announces the deficit fight is ahead of schedule, a relative "good news" feel, the Conservatives look competent. No one should assume the future is always brighter, timing is everything and this moment has many attractive attributes.

I think it's "go time". I would very quietly and cautiously move in that direction come the return of Parliament.

34 comments:

ottlib said...

Since it is very rare for the opposition party to ever lead the governing party in between elections any Liberal waiting for their Party to finally take the lead over the Conservatives is in for a long wait.

Steve V said...

Exactly, which is why you look for weakness in your opponent. I submit, conditions are optimal on that front and we risk losing this window if we wait for next spring.

900ft Jesus said...

I'm glad you feel that way Steve. What ottlib said, also, the longer the opposition waits, the more of a strangle hold harper gets on independent agencies and the more time he has to gain greater control over messaging systems. Not just the CRTC story from today, but his increasing use of departments and agencies as though they serve him and not the public. I work in communications, and that's what is happening in departments.

Final point - many Canadians are losing what belief that had that to Libs could be strong enough to run a government since they don't seem to be an effective opposition as they let harper get away with so much. Harper changed the way politics is done, so the opposition needs to get far more aggressive.

Steve V said...

It's a double edged sword to think we just wait for a bigger "kick the bums out" sentiment to gel, because we concurrently weaken our brand by compromising to avoid that election.

Philosophically, it's clear we can't continue to let these low rent ideologues rule, I'm just trying to attach a strategic argument.

Tof KW said...

The decision is simple, regardless of the Harperbot's bravado they are 'getting hammered' as you say.

They are alienating the business sector and major religious groups (two key elements the CPofC needs to win over if they hope to secure a majority) with their census stand.

We have RCMP and Veterans officials being silenced for having contrary views towards the government, again what should be key allies of the Conservatives.

There is now the real threat of the CRTC head getting moved to ensure Kory-TV gets an all-carry license ...literally the Prime Minister wants to hand out TV licenses directly.

This is not 2008 with Dion trying to sell a complicated restructuring of the tax code, putting the spotlight completely on the Libs.

This time the spotlight is totally on Harper.

Election now ...unless the Grits become complete incompetents, there is no way Harper will make it through without loosing seats. And a reduced minority win would be a hollow victory for Harper, as it would be his last as the CPofC leader.

Steve V said...

"This is not 2008 with Dion trying to sell a complicated restructuring of the tax code, putting the spotlight completely on the Libs.

This time the spotlight is totally on Harper."

Agreed!

LostInToronto said...

yeah - I've ceased my complaining about M.I. for a few months now, let's go already and take out these insane lunatics.

We need better narratives though instead of the trite crap of the past - hard hitting stuff showing explicitly his attempt to silence dissent and create huge swaths of criminals to fill his buddies prison industry.

This thing with Sun TV needs to be hit hard at elections Canada as an election expense.

It's time for the explicit messages showing he is a dangerous dictator - forget what his "hidden" agenda is - show the lies of his so-called policies explicitly.

Be strong and brave show there is a relgious right dictatorship being constructed by him and his fundamentalist buddies.

Tof KW said...

Might I suggest the Liberal draft a covenant with the voters - call it the 'Transparency Treaty with the Taxpayer' or something else with a catchy title.

Create some policy that the Libs will restore the independence of government bodies, and that whistleblowers won't be subject to the kinds of abuse and treatment that Harper employs openly. The Reformatories can't counter that, because Harper is the problem there - not the solution.

Add in a promise to legislate the last two key recommendations from the Gomery Inquiry that Harper neglected to add into his Accountability Act, to ensure penance for Adscam is complete and never to be duplicated. That effectively kills another of Harper's attack lines.

Believe me, do this and it will bury Harper. There is no way he can counter, and no way it can be attacked.

Tof KW said...

Might I add from my previous post from 11:49, that a minority win for Harper would be a best case scenario for him. The only question in regards to a possible fall election is how many seats will he lose. A CPofC majority was lost once his census stand became enshrined, by virtue of this hitting Ontario and Quebec the most. Worst case is of course Harper losing government all together, which is a very likely scenario at this point.

The climate right now is very much like what Paul Martin ran against in 2006, and regardless of him consistently leading in the polls prior to and over most of the campaign, we all know how that ended.

WesternGrit said...

Agreed, it is "go-time". We must, however, have an airtight deficit fighting plan, AND a measure to help all the people who will be jobless in the coming "double dip" part of this recession. Home prices are going to collapse by 2011, with up to millions of Canadians living in negative equity (owing more for their homes than they're worth). Many more still will not be able to renegotiate their higher mortgages - which will be up for renewal next couple of years (if they bought in the last 3 or 4 years - thanks to the Harper governments suckering them into "buy, buy, buy!" fever).

A Liberal/CMHC mortgage bailout program - even if a small amount - would be a huge help.

Win back the South Asian community. Start with an apology in the H of C for the Komagata Maru incident. Harper/Kenney refused to apologize in Parliament - and the FACT that so many Canadians are ignorant of this black mark in our history just illustrates how Harper shoved the false apology under the table at a park in suburban Surrey BC - where no-one would hear him. He and Nina Grewal were booed off the stage. Iggy needs to speak out about the negative undertones our government is taking to the Sri Lankan refugee issue. The government is creating an atmosphere of hate/mistrust when most of these people haven't even had a fair shake in our system.

The economy is already showing signs of weakness, and a strong likelihood of downturn next year. We need to ensure that this is pointed out to be Harper's fault. Our meme has to be that Harper f'd up a 13 Billion dollar surplus, and spent it on tax cuts for the rich, and fighter jets, and other pet projects, when Canadians are losing jobs daily, and stand to lose their homes (just like South of the border).

RuralSandi said...

Unfortunately, the Liberals can't do it alone. Jack Layton is Mr. Bravado when the onus isn't on him.

We have 4 couples that are friends who "were" staunch NDP supporters. They are fed up with Layton attacking Liberals instead of Conservatives and feel that our way of life is threatened and have decided to vote Liberal in the next election. I wonder how many are thinking that way?

We also have some Cons friends who are getting concerned about Harper.

Mad Loon said...

What the polls don't show is who will actually turn out and vote. Harper has won his minorities based as much on the low turnout of disillusioned Liberals as his base. I sense disillusionment creeping into Conservative support, at the same time what else could it take to re-energize the Liberal base that has sat home or parked their votes elsewhere. If the Liberals were to win, it wouldn't be the first time a party trailing at the dropping of the writ, have gone on to win.

Steve V said...

On the turnout front, I would add that this little Ignatieff tour has done wonders for local Liberal morale. These are the people that show up, work for candidates, drive people to the polls. There is no question the base was demoralized, but this tour has helped in that regard and this will help come a campaign.

popthestack said...

Another aspect missing from polls is how strategic voting considerations will alter the results over a campaign and come election day. It is an unfortunate fact that the Green party won't win their share of seats, they'd be lucky to get one. As the campaign wraps up and the possibility of yet another Harper minority looms there will be more strategic voting than usual. Many Greens will jump ship to the anti-Harper candidate in their riding. If the NDP takes the usual approach of spending 70% of their time attacking the Liberals they may also loose a lot of soft-NDP support given what Harper has been doing to the country.

An election in the fall is best for the country, either Ignatieff can lead the Liberals to a minority or a coalition or he'll lose and they can find another leader. Waiting another year for a few percentage uptick in the polls isn't worth the wait.

Tof KW said...

Sandi, I already pointed out here or elsewhere I've got two very blue friends of mine who already told me they are sitting out the next election unless there is a shake up (no chance they would vote Lib). I also have a close family friend who is a cop, likewise he's not happy about their registry moves (so much for Harper's noise about regular constables wanting the long gun registry scrapped). All just anecdotal of course, but these were not people who sat out the last two elections ...and I'm sure they are not alone. There are definite concerns coming out from the CPC base now, and their contribution numbers are noticeably down lately.

Dame said...

Go go Liberals.. Go for it ASAP.
no further argument Now is the time..

Mad Loon said...

More on an anecdotal note, My elderly mother who is devoutly religious and who like all the previous generations of her family, has always voted either PC or Con, stated in no uncertain terms lately that she will not be voting for "that bastard" Harper. She will not ever vote Liberal, however staying home is almost as good.

ottlib said...

Not to blow my own horn but I have argued on my own blog in the past that Mr. Harper's almost constant pandering to his base since the 2006 election is an indication that the Conservatives see trouble there.

There is a sizeable proportion of his base who would vote Conservative just because they hate the Liberals. However, there is a larger proportion who actually believed what Stephen Harper said those many years ago and have become disillusioned with how the Conservatives have campaigned... er, I mean governed.

Many of them could very well stay away from the polls during the next election and a better performance from Mr. Ignatieff could very well bring out those Liberals that stayed away in 2008. Such a situation would spell a loss for the Conservatives, perhaps a big one.

Kim said...

I wrote my MP Keith Martin this morning, telling him to prepare for an election and exactly why. I told him I plan to vote strategically and I want to do so as soon as possible.

I told him I am not a liberal and have reservations. Then I told him I will vote for him if they put out a red book, a plan for positive changes, including the rebalance of power out of the PMO, PCO and back to the house.

Show me some leadership. Give me a reason to vote Lieral. We'll see if he replies...

James Bow said...

I agree. Go for it. Even though the numbers favour no one, right now, the time is ripe to clear the air. With the second anniversary of this parliament approaching, Canadians will be more mentally in tune with the need for an election, and the penalty of forcing one would be easily overcome with good campaigning.

Steve V said...

I find it interesting, not one dissenting comment on the "go for it" front.

James Bow said...

Well, Steve, give us time. :-)

Remember these numbers, though:

36.3% - the lowest level of popular support ever accorded to the most popular party in an election (Harper/Conservative 2006; narrowly beating out the previous record holder: 36.6%, Martin/Liberal)

35.9% - the lowest level of popular support ever accorded to a party in an election during which they formed the government (Clark/Conservative 1979).

Current support levels of the Harper/Tories: 31-34%.

There is considerable public dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs. With this minority government reaching the average life-expectancy for Canadian minority governments, an election to clear the air would be good for Canadians, in my opinion, even if not as good as each of the mainstream parties might hope.

RuralSandi said...

TofKW - funny, I have a girlfriend who is an OPP officer and she thinks Shelley Glover is a liar and gets really upset when Glover acts like she's the voice of the police. She thinks Glover is just too self-imporant to even care what she says as long as she's getting attention. Don't know the political view of my OPP girlfriend, but she sure as hell is angry about Harper's long gun registry game. She also said that she was never, ever approached or bullied into saying she wanted to keep the registry as Glover tries to claim.

DL said...

"They are fed up with Layton attacking Liberals instead of Conservatives "

When has that happened since 2006 when the Liberals were last in power. I read every NDP press release and follow every speech by Layton and its about 99% attacks on the Tories and 1% attacks on the Liberals for propping up the Tories and agreeing with them on everything.

Gayle said...

I also believe the LPC should go now, if not just because if they wait for their numbers to go up (and if they do go up), the NDP and the Bloc will never agree to bring Harper down.

Steve V said...

I'll leave you to your hyper partisan uber-orange world, but one quick point. When the NDP propped up the Cons last fall, the poor NDP bloggers accused the Libs of picking on them, being obsessed with them. Now, I wish I kept the post, but somebody did a compare and contrast and found that NDP supporters spent WAY, WAY more time attacking the Libs than the opposite, including THIS blog. As an extension of that, YOU are the quintessential hypocritical example, and yet you have the nerve to post that turd comment. If you doubt the statistical relevance, I suggest you do you own research, because you will find the same exists today. Just the facts, something you can't handle, which is sad.

James Bow said...

A bit strong, don't you think? Or is there a history with this commentator that I'm not aware of, here?

Steve V said...

The latter :)

Gallahad said...

DL,

You are such a pedantic a-hole, you really are.

You know damn well that Jack Layton, can do and say whatever the hell he likes, because his actions have no consequences to them.

The one time he was put to the test he flunked, and he saved the Harper, government from defeat on a non confidence motion.

The NDP, does spend most of their bloody time attacking the Liberal party.

Your garbage posting proved that when you just had to get that dig in about the Liberals, supporting the Harper, government.

Your postings on here are juvenile and pathetic, and most of them are nothing more than an attack on the Liberal party.

DL, you are a complete joke.

I almost wish we had a Harper, majority government, then NDP, losers such as yourself would have no one to blame but your bloody selves.

You are such a hack DL, you really are.

Steve V said...

The funniest party, 95% of the time he posts a comment its a slag on the Libs, and yet he says its fantasy to say the NDP are consumed with attacking the Libs. My goodness.

Tomm said...

Steve,

You guys are down in the weeds with this post.

With respect to Liberal v. NDP fights, the Liberal supporters have to accept the FACT that they have always held the sword, no one else. For a Liberal supporter to blame the NDP for propping up the minority government is not even laughable, it is almost CNIB level blind.

With respect to the Liberal's pulling the election lever, how many posts have you personally posted on precisely this topic? Other libloggers? It is a pre-occupation of Liberal bloggers, it really is. This circle of thought doesn't move anything ahead except to create bitterness and resentment against the governing party strictly through emotion. It also creates fissures and cuts amongst Liberal supporters.

Politically these are not positive things.

Steve V said...

That isn't even coherent Tomm. Then again, what else is new...

Tomm said...

Steve,

I'll write what you want to hear.

Ignatieff can angle the media over to the edge and use some reason or other (census?) to make it seem like Harper is "forcing" his hand. That will give him the excuse he needs to drop the government without losing the inevitable 5% of annoyed voters who want to blame some one for going to the polls.

Great idea. I certainly can commit to voting myself.

Happy now?

I think my first post had a lot more depth.

Tof KW said...

Right Tomm, the Liberals should be having second thoughts. After all, look at how the media and public went after Harper when he triggered an election over a still popular Paul Martin in late 2005 ...with campaign adds running through Christmas & New Years even. Ya, the electorate sure punished Harper in that one.